Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Holding court

When you are the first person from your country to score a 50 in a Test match (i.e. in the first ever Test match for the country) and then go on to eventually lead it to a mind-boggling World Cup title, you are entitled to feel special. Arjuna run-a-minute Ranatunga definitely enjoys such a royal status in Sri Lanka.

Unafraid to thumb his nose at the establishment, home-grown or foreign, Arjuna was (and still is) his own man, molding a team from the depths of the ratings to the pinnacle of ODI cricket. Today, he has retired from the game but still talks up a storm.

In a free-wheeling interview, that feels more like a king holding court, Ranatunga reminisces about the past. It is refreshing to find out that there still are people who can talk in more than just PC-speak.
Ranatunga has featured in only three advertisements so far. The first was to raise funds for the General Hospital, the second for a polio drive and the third for a garbage disposal campaign. All were done for free. "I got 250 rupees for my first Test and traveled by train to the game. After that Lipton Tea came in and said they would offer me 250,000 rupees to feature in an advertisement. I asked them to meet my mother. And she told them, 'My son is not for sale'. I was lying in my bed that night when she came and sat next to me and explained her decision. I still remember what she said: 'Son, remember, never ever sell your talent and face for anything.'"

1 comment:

Aruna said...

Ranatunga was also someone who used to carry the sinhala pride in every possible way. Have read somewhere that he used to address the team meetings only in sinhalese and people like Muralitharan, who is a tamilian (the only one at that time in the SL team), had to learn the language and Whatmore, who was the coach then, had to have a translator! He used to command huge respect from his fellow mates!